Could This Day Be Just A Little Bit Better?

Do you have 10 seconds right now to find out?

I’m sure you’re as crazy busy as I am.

This morning
as I was running up my garden steps to the car,
(not noticing much of anything but my mind’s agenda)
the scent of my peonies stopped me mid-stride
and pulled me back down the stairs.

Those 10 seconds with my face in theirs made my day.

Last month it was my lilacs.
Daffodils before that.
Spring is a sensual feast I inhale in great gulps.

That’s why, now more than ever
— whether I’m thriving or feel totally overwhelmed —
I will not miss this wake up call to life.
It’s just too good!

I think that’s a big part of what our sensesare meant to do,
partnered with Nature’s abundance.

They’re here to wake us up
and turn us on again to the joy of living!

And with beyond-belief springtime bursting all around us,
all we have to do is give it 10 seconds.

This kind of sense pleasure does it’s own sort of shouting,
but only if we let ourselves be seduced.
It lays in wait to make us smile,
to ease the hard times,
and infuse our days with wonder!

What a shame we get lost in our thoughts
and forget to look up.
Turned off to the joy we were built to know.

Now THAT just wouldn’t do!

So… I’ve made you 12 days of reminders.
I’m calling it “Turn on in 12 Days”
Little emails to land in your inbox.
Snippets from my joy to yours.
My gift in honor of Spring!

Get yours here.

Welcome to the Holidays

joy banner

It’s upon us… this last and darkest month of the year.

If you’re feeling tired, and maybe just a little reluctant to jump into all the holiday festivities, there’s a reason.

Until gas and electric lights illuminated our evenings, these dark months were for resting. Dark came early. The crops were already harvested. Those proverbial long winter’s naps were a fixture of December.

Bodies are slow to evolve! But these days, just when we most need to do less, invitations and events fill our calendars like over-stuffed stockings on Christmas Eve. And we think nothing of it.

It starts out feeling like fun, right? All glittery and sugar-coated excitement.

We go to more parties, buy more presents, and drink more cocktails. Did I mention the cookies? All this doing MORE is way LESS satisfying as the month wears on.

We’ve been taught (mostly by our consumer culture) that more is better. We think that more will make us feel full, feel loved, feel like we’re enough.

Instead the hollow emptiness afterward, the crash-and-burn fogginess, the TOO MUCH-ness of it all is anything but a pleasure.

I’m wanting to do the holiday season differently this year.

You, too?

Dear Ones, our light and love is needed more than ever right now. I’m sure you can feel it. And doing too much just erodes our feminine capacity to care.

So let me ask you, what would truly please you this month? Please let us know down below….

Maybe you’ve had enough of the self-abuse we’ve come to call celebrationGetting swept up in it all, filling your calendar and cramming more in, making it look all tinsel-bright, and convincing yourself you’re having a really great time.

Maybe, like me, you’re ready for a holiday that is truly pleasurable, one that has more to do with flowing than pushing, being nurtured by natural beauty than having to buy and wrap it all. Maybe you’d like a season that allows you to remember your feminine caring place, what’s most needed both for you and this poor confused, but dearly beloved world.

So… last week I made a little list (and checked it twice!) of 12 sparkling ideas. Ways to return the holiday to its joy. To come back to our bodies and senses, to embrace the beauty all around us, and to empower our hearts’ light to brighten every dark corner with love.

12 Tips to Revive the Joy of the Season and Your Feminine.

It’s just a little pdf with my secret sauce. My gift to you this holiday season. Unwrap it here. And share your own secrets below. Our shared light is what illuminates the world.

Happiest of holidays to you, Dear Beauties!

A Deeper Turn-On?

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A deeper turn-on? Huh?

It’s about pleasure in the body, most definitely..
But it’s more…

More than the momentary high of a great orgasm,
…though there are little-known practices that create the magic.
More than someone else’s slow hands,
…though that’s quite a delight.
Even more than all the best techniques in the world.

A deeper turn-on comes from learning to access the source of your turn-on.
And that is YOU.

You won’t find it in the perfect body you wish you had,
or some fabulous setting or future time when you’ll finally be ready,
or even someone who knows how to take you there.
(OK, so that is lovely,..)

No, this deeper turn-on is available right here… and right now.
In fact, you already possess the tools to bring it on.

I’m talking about what comes from living fully connected to yourself…
Your senses.
Your body.
Your inner quiet.
Your intuition.
Your enough-ness.

It’s knowing how to more fully receive what is already there.
No working! No trying!
No walking on your knees through the desert for a hundred years, to quote Mary Oliver.

A deeper turn-on is just about remembering what we’ve never been taught.
It’s about cultivating the Feminine. And indeed, it is Divine!

But we’re constantly putting out and producing and trying to cross everything off our list. That, My Dears, is living in masculine energy. It exhausts us because too much of it is just not healthy or natural to our feminine essence.

A deeper turn-on comes from accessing the vitality and sustenance of your larger body, the natural world.

That’s Divining your Beauty. It’s what I’ve been writing about these past years. It’s the territory I’ve traveled and the path I wish to share with you. ​

Life’s pleasures you may be missing out on…

steaming tea banner

Do you ever find yourself too preoccupied with some drama in your mind to notice the fiery sunset out the window?
Or bored with what was once your favorite shirt with its subtle pattern?
Or too jaded to appreciate the cleft in your lover’s chin that you used to swoon over?

I’ve been shocked lately by how often I’m asleep to the delights that surround me.

Vision itself isn’t the problem. The human brain’s visual cortex is more complex than any other animal’s. With over two million parts, our eyes regularly manage to differentiate foreground from background and line from edges, something even the most complex computers are unable to do.

But we become increasingly blind to what we see everyday. Social activist and 19th-century poet Julia Ward Howe wrote that “familiarity so dulls the edge of perception as to make us least acquainted with things forming part of our daily life.”

This is why I write and coach and lead workshops. It’s just too easy to forget what’s true and cut ourselves off from the pleasure life is constantly offering us. We wear cracked glasses and get cranky about the distortion.

So… would you like help in taking off those broken glasses? Will you join me in making a vow each morning to stay awake?

Here’s a simple suggestion from my forthcoming book. Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks.

I invite you to rediscover “first sight” today. For five dedicated minutes, decide to see what’s actually there before you.

Allow yourself to be surprised by whatever catches your gaze. If it’s a familiar room or landscape or road, find what’s novel that you may have overlooked. Watch for contrasts of light and color. Don’t let yourself miss the reflection in the curve of a hubcap. The way the sun breaks through clouds igniting some previously unremarkable piece of the landscape.

Set your intention to be awake to what catches your eye. Be like a kid out exploring whatever happens to turn up. It really doesn’t matter what. If you allow yourself to be captivated by the exploration, your mind’s curiosity will awaken you to what’s there to fall in love with. I promise you CAN see again the wonder, awe, and beauty that awaits you.

Below in the comment section of this blog, let me know how you keep “first sight” alive in your life. Tell me your daily strategy for upping the joy you receive from what’s always there to delight you.

​I can’t wait to hear from you. ​

How can I love better this year?

hands in form of heart

On one of the first fresh days of this new year, I had a come-to-Jesus moment.

I’m dating a wonderful new man. In a sweet moment of closeness, his purity and goodness were undeniable. I couldn’t imagine ever treating him badly, holding onto resentments, or failing to meet him with an open heart.

I believe that when we fall in love, we really do see this new being for who they most truly are. It’s the innocence and beauty of their deepest self that draw us to them.

But of course, this is the beginning of a new relationship for me. And I know the usual trajectory. As hurts and misunderstandings mount it’s not been long before I’ve lost sight of what had been so obvious.

In remembering this pattern, I’m overcome by a wash of shame… for the ways I’ve belittled men for decades, relegating them to other. Regardless of my best intentions, my disappointments and judgments have clouded their light. And as much as I’d rather not admit it, my love has been conditional. I needed them to change.

I’ve made men less-than in so many ways because they were different from me. I see now how my stories about them became the truth I created.

In that moment, lying beside my new sweetheart, I sent out a blanket apology to the Universe — to men in general, and to my ex-husband and past partners specifically — for making them wrong. And I vowed to release that habit.

Women disparage men. We often subtly make fun of them. Of course we’re encouraged by TV sitcoms, where they’re now often portrayed as bumbling, clueless dolts. It’s almost become a national sport.

In my counseling practice working with both men and women, I have been surprised by the frequency and poignancy of men’s broken-hearted stories. So often they are earnest in their desire to please their woman, but frustrated that they never seem to get it right. They frequently despair at ever figuring it out.

Their marriages are without the vitality they’d hoped for. Battle lines have been drawn in the bedroom when he’s wanted sex and she’s said no, when they’ve both made each other wrong for being who they are. More often than you might guess it is the man who comes to me, desperately reaching for straws to find some way to make things better.

I’ve done my share of disparaging partners for never quite getting me right, not knowing what I wanted, or being insensitive to my shifting desires. But over the last few years as I’ve listened to my male clients and their despair, my arrogance has melted.

This is a baffling time for many men, especially as they age. They still need to feel powerful and purposeful, to be respected and admired. But shifts in consciousness are changing mores and roles. Social evolution is calling men toward a more subtle and nuanced relationship with women and everything else. What used to work doesn’t anymore. What men once considered flattery is now harassment. They wonder how to express their appreciation without offending. So often, they just want to make their sweetie happy.

As a woman, I’m getting just as tired of the accepted stereotypes we place on men as I am of those women have endured for so long. I want to go beyond the easy condescension, the jokes and snickers about our men that women too often exchange when we gather. Despite all the consciousness raising, we still indulge in the old-boy games.

So this is what I want to know as I begin this new and promising relationship. How can I love better? How can I find the courage to speak my heart’s and body’s truths, but with a consistently open and kind heart?

Then there’s the bigger question…How do we as women give the consistent respect and understanding we wish to receive ourselves, despite the inevitable disappointments? How do we step away from an over-simplified male/female dichotomy and into true respect for each other’s needs and proclivities?

I know I won’t always get it right, but in the clear light of this New Year, I want to make these promises:
~I vow to honor each person’s honest and earnest attempts to love, no matter their gender.
~I vow to choose curiosity instead of condescension.
~I vow to speak my own truth and to compassionately respect the other’s experience.
~I vow to meet every person with my heart as open as possible, ready to recognize their struggle as my own and to welcome our shared vulnerabilities as strengths instead of weaknesses.

We can lament the differences between men and women. Or we can enjoy them – even benefit from them – and dwell instead on the richness of our shared perspectives. We are more alike than different, especially when we come from unguarded hearts. It’s our choice. Maybe this year really will be the start of something new.

Does this ring true to you? Do you have promises you’re making to remember the true essence of your beloved or those you love who’s difference has blinded you to their true self? I’d love to know. There’s space below for your comments.

And thank you so much for partnering with me as we strive to divine everyone’s inner beauty.

Sensual Aikido in the Ocean Life

Ocean wave

I was born landlocked in Pennsylvania. My parents were farmers who didn’t swim. And I had soundly failed Junior Life Saving at the Y when the lifeguard had to save me! The beaches I saw on TV were mysterious and alluring, but terrifying, too. And at 12, the pummeling I received by the New Jersey surf while visiting cousins kept me timid and fearful of wild water ever after. Pools felt safer and much more predictable. If I didn’t feel entirely at ease in the water, at least I wouldn’t be sucked down to unknown depths.

But of course the ocean is unpredictable. And as it would happen, when I played hooky and went to the beach in Rhode Island last week, the surf was crazy after days of storms. A phantom wave drenched our blanket in the first five minutes. I’d never seen waves like this at Ninigret State Beach. And just as I was mustering up the courage to make my way in, the sea sent seven raucous breakers toward the shore in ten-second intervals.

A flash of the old fear surged through me. But fortunately some years ago a dear friend taught me the secret to turning this fear into frenzied fun. You know it, I’m sure. When I dove directly beneath the wild heart of each crest, I came up soaked, but shockingly unscathed! And thrilled! Dancing with Mother Nature’s power and unpredictability – in whatever form it appears – has become one of my biggest turn-ons.

Still, this day’s display was nothing to take lightly. I was thankful for the lifeguard not 50 feet away! So I ventured in. Minutes later, I was no Venus stepping off her shell. Three leviathan waves – one right after the other – had caught me unprepared. I’d had a wild ride, mostly in intimate contact with hard sand and swirling water. And though I’d surely had moments of panic, I’d also loved it.

There seems to be a direct connection between what frightens us most and what makes us feel truly alive. Of course, some common sense and knowledge of Nature’s ways will keep you safer – up to a point. There’s always risk though. She’s not about to be tamed; nor should you be.

But, the waves that scare us don’t usually rise out of the ocean.

I’m betting there’s an enormous wave out on your horizon, coming toward you right now. Some opportunity for really living, for more​ feeling, for deep intimacy – with  yourself or someone else – that you’re scared to dive into, fearful that you’ll be swept out to sea – that you’ll fall into the same patterns or lose control or get hurt again?

But I’d also bet that you feel the pull of what’s possible. Can you let go enough to let life seduce you? Can you remember that you’re actually safer than you think when you catch the wave wrong, when you’re tossed under, out of control, scratching your elbows and knees on the sand, having your suit fill with grit? This kind of living isn’t about comfort. There may be consequences. But what I’ve found is that the more I let myself feel all that’s there, the safer I realize I actually am. It’s when I block feeling that I freeze in fear.

So how fully do you want to live? That’s the questions Jack Kornfield asks in his book, A Path with Heart. “In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you learn to let go?”

The more intimate we become with what scares us – the more we understand its ways – the more able we are to play in its force. Like an aikido master, we learn not to fight against the waves as they approach or avoid the water altogether, but to feel the waves all around us and swim fully with the energies of life.

How would a re-treat bring you back to yourself?

Concert CurtainsI’m just back from leading a retreat.
Just women. In nature. Over the summer solstice.
Reconnecting to our selves and our senses — and the pleasures they invite.
Becoming intimate with real life again.

I don’t know a woman who couldn’t use a break to come back to herself.
Unfortunately our daily preoccupation with thinking, fixing, and planning deadens our pleasure.
It takes us out of the present moment.

As we dwell in the past’s what-ifs and strategize outcomes for the future,
we lose touch with what is real and alive, in the here and now.
Of course we have to make life work, but our senses – and pleasure — atrophy in the perpetual imbalance.
We miss the connection to ourselves.

That’s why we retreat…
we re-treat ourselves to the joys of living connected to a wider, wilder slice of life than our over-active minds continuously provide.
And after retreating we can advance into life – re-inspired, with enthusiasm and creativity —
rewired and reconnected to your original instructions.
We come back changed and more ourselves.
The women returning from my recent retreat report their friends’ wows on how obviously radiant and changed they looked.

So why don’t we make this happen?
Why does taking the space for a retreat for ourselves end up at the bottom of our list?

This is all I’ve wanted to write about since returning from the solstice retreat last week.
Why do we avoid what we need so much? 
Is it that we’d rather take the abuse of incessant over-work than risk being perceived as self-indulgent?
Is it just easier to do the next thing on the list than to really listen to what’s necessary?
And why can’t the rewards we give ourselves to compensate begin to balance the scales?
Are these your questions, too? I really want to know…
There’s a place to let me know down below.

What does self-care really look like beyond pampering the body after constant neglect?

I have some ideas…
Find out why we too often choose pleasures that deny real feeling
instead of those that cultivate our capacity for a deeper connection, those real joys that move our souls.

So, why don’t we choose to stop? Why do we find it so hard to break away?
Why is planning ahead for personal time just about impossible?
Is it because everything else seems so much more important?
We feel the pressure of looming deadlines, pending obligations, stretched finances.
It’s just easier to make due… Do without… Play the martyr… Get by… Get drunk!

Our inner life is easy to dis-regard.
And frankly, so is pleasure, the real self-care.
Maybe it’s because we live in a culture that’s more comfortable abusing ourselves through over-working than risking being perceived as lazy or self-indulgent.
Is it just me… or do we all live with that dull, unconscious shame.
Worse than the old grip of religion’s fear of sin
is the modern continual plague of thinking we should somehow always be working just a bit harder,
always trying to prove our worth.

Our overwork then demands a reciprocal reward — our own go-to indulgence.
Often we disregard the eventual cost, so deep is our need for relief.
Are we somehow trying to make it up to ourselves?
We over-do the denied pleasures with the same vengeance we over-worked.
We indulge in over-the-top vacations to exotic locales, then need to recover once we’re home.

And as women, we call this self-care… pampering the body after perpetual neglect.
Mani-pedis, massages, or a few too many drinks after a hard day.
Chasing the pleasure we somehow feel intrinsically should be the baseline of life,
but feeling empty and dissatisfied when the paltry reward can’t begin to balance the scales.

Ask yourself then, “What would be your true pleasure?”
What is it that you really need, deep inside?
In all the cacophony of your stressed-out, over-scheduled daily life,
it’s no surprise if you have absolutely no idea.

Perhaps you just need to stop, to give yourself a retreat,
to re-discover who you are and what it is that you really need.

A month away would be amazing, I know, but you can start with a few minutes.
Here are some tips to get you started.

  1. First, you’ll need to plan ahead or it will never happen, I promise. Even a few minutes or hours is a good start. A full day will surprise you. A weekend could feel like heaven. And longer, well, it just might change your life. It has mine.
  2. You’ll need to treat your re-treat like an important appointment in your calendar. Guard it for the pleasure it will provide, like you would of a vacation to Paris.
  3. Then find someplace that’s quiet and without your usual distractions. Turn off your phone and lock the bedroom door. You may need to leave the house. Nature provides amazing possibilites.
  4. Decide on a focus to quiet your mind. I’ve used classical meditation practices like mantras or mudras, but sometimes I choose to make my focus my senses while sitting outside or on a simple walk in the natural world. Similar to when I’m sitting on my meditation cushion, my intention is to keep centered on what I’m seeing and hearing – the bird call off the to right of the path or the green moss on the shady side of the hemlock — and not what happened last night.

My senses have become a fabulous tool for bringing my thoughts back to the present moment. 
It’s so simple.
There’s no interpretation.
What I hear, I hear, now.

Sometimes I close my eyes and just take in sound.
First I hear the loudest ones, the truck passing or the crow or jay squawking,
but soon the less obvious ones enter my awareness.
Droplets falling from branches after a rain.
Breezes ruffling the leaves.
A mosquito buzzing near my ear!

I often notice that after a brief few minutes of stillness my adorable mind wants to jump in,
trying to solve all the world’s problems.
It wants to understand and fix everything.
That’s it’s job.
It’s just not used to the rest.

So, when I finally realize her antics, I give her a little pat on the back, tuck her in for a nap,
and come back to right now.
It’s the coming back that counts, not how many times she calls out for my attention.

You might use mealtimes for a mini-retreat to take you deeper into your pleasure.
There’s a level of nourishment your body needs that’s maximized when you fill more than just your tummy. When you receive the joy of color, taste, scent as you consciously eat,
then even 15-minutes can revive body and soul.

If you go on a silent retreat with yourself in the woods for even an hour,
you inevitably connect more deeply with this new surrounding
as well as how that connection feels in your body.

As you are more present to the stillness or lack of it
– the sounds of the moment —
your senses cannot help but open.
You feel more, palpably.

And feeling more feels GOOD.
You won’t want the magic of this moment broken
​… so need I remind you to leave your phone turned off or, if you dare, in the car?

So plan a retreat. Invest in real self-care.

 

Why I celebrate the summer Solstice

mary solstice

Why do I bother to celebrate the summer solstice?

Well, first, it’s a really big deal cosmologically… High Summer, as the Celt’s called it.
Our sun makes life possible, grows our food, lightens our mood,
and as Mary Oliver reminds us, keeps us from ever-darkness.
This is the sun’s heyday.

Every ancient culture, the wide world round, celebrated this event.
Undeniably, that experience is embedding in our collective unconscious.
Whether we acknowledge it or not, each of us is profoundly affected by daily, monthly and seasonal cycles, connecting us to the world and cosmos around us.

That’s why I create experiences for people to more fully connect with themselves and Nature
in celebration of these few remarkable days
… and why you might want to, too.

Why not design your own summer solstice celebration if you’re not able to get yourself to mine
— though there is still one empty bunk waiting for you (at the time of this writing, at least).
To find out how I’m celebrating summer solstice here in the Berkshires with women friends from around the country, click here.

Since sol-stice means sun-stop, consider stopping during the days surrounding the solstice, next Sunday June 21st. Stop even for a few moments throughout this liminal time to connect with the life that’s everywhere
– to take in beauty and the gifts your senses bring to you.
They connect you to what’s real, right now.

Let yourself be touched by the fullness of this sun-soaked season.
Choose to go slowly for a few days.
Find some wild, natural water to dip you feet into… or your whole self.
Allow spaciousness between activities.
Watch how these intentional shifts change you and everyone around you.

Or try this if you really want more intimacy with life!
Every day give yourself a quiet time of sitting in the same spot in nature,
just noticing whatever happens there.

When you sit for several consecutive days,
you’ll be amazed at how things have grown and changed from one day to the next.

Engage all of your senses…

  • Watch the birds in flight; listen to their conversations.
  • Listen for the loudest sounds and the quietest ones in all directions around you.
  • Notice what moves, what’s still, what the sky and the clouds are up to.
  • Feel your skin being touched by the breeze or humidity, the wood stair you’re sitting on.
  • Be awake to scent. What spring over-the-top-ness is wafting on the air?
  • What colors demand your attention and appreciation?

Over the years, marking the solstices and equinoxes
— flags of the earth’s cycles –
has become an essential part of my life.
We are all embedded in this matrix of life whether we pay any attention to it or not.

But it’s in noticing and really feeling our connections to the wider, wilder world
that we become fully human
and not just minds, lost in space. 

It’s how we deepen our capacity to feel, to take in delight, to be fully ourselves
​— and in that fullness, to be authentically intimate with others.

That’s why I’m celebrating the summer solstice next weekend, and why I hope you will, too.

What Most Blocks our Vibrant Life Force…

Male feet standing on yellow maple leavesIt’s still October. I’m optimistic.
I think I really can do all I’ve planned.
Fabulous new projects as my career heats up.
Leading groups and planning retreats. Writing.
Making Halloween happen. Family events.
Keeping up with perpetual email and Facebook .

I’m betting you’re in the same situation. We do so much, and our standards are astronomical.
We want to bring our best to everything.

And then there’s what I want do for me. Hikes. Meditating. Fun with my son.
Buttoning up the garden. Time with friends. Tending my chickens.
Making quince paste.
(I just can’t resist this pleasure! It’s the first year my quince tree has produced its glorious golden mythic fruit.)

Oh, and there’s lovemaking. That’s right. I’ll squeeze that in somewhere.

Is this your story, too?
Partner or not, why is it that tending to our own sexual pleasure is often near the bottom of the list?
We know we should want it. But, what’s wrong that we don’t, or not so often.
It’s kind of crazy, really!
After I do make love with my partner or myself, I wonder why I don’t do this every night!
That’s what I say in the moment, at least.

But then my life happens.
There’s so much still to do!
And I’m exhausted.
Just let me sleep.
Please!

So here’s the issue, Dear Women…
The everyday stress of our full-on yang lifestyle is death to a woman’s desire.

And even more confounding – the masculine doesn’t work that way.
For most men, sex reduces stress. It chills them out.
Lets them relax and revive.
Perhaps this is why our hyper-yang culture is so sex-obsessed.
And why a constant diet of quick sex is often just not that great for women.
But stress defines the culture we live in!
What’s a girl to do?

Well, first. WHEW!
Does just hearing this truth help you feel a little less bad?
It’s not just you.
You’re not defective.

Here’s the thing…
Being relaxed is necessary foreplay for a woman’s pleasure.

Running as fast as you can — even if it’s doing all that good self-care – is really NO help at all.
But sinking into the sensual is.
Stepping back into the feminine.
And not by just making that another goal on your to-do list.

Begin to look for the simple sensual pleasures that are available to you in this moment, without any effort at all.
How do we move out this crazy hyper-efficiency obsession?

Here’s what I know.
Remembering to notice – and then  appreciate — what’s here now is the secret.
Really seeing beauty — the contrast of colors on my plate, the arch of a sparrow in flight,
a kindness received or given,
one exquisite breath expanding the tense muscles in my shoulders and chest – begins to turn my life around.

You see, pleasure begets pleasure. 
When I find the simple sensual pleasures that are available to me in this moment, my energy expands from doing-doing-doing to being present and welcoming.
Then a soak in the tub doesn’t seem such a ridiculous waste of time.
And THEN, almost magically, giving myself or my sweetie a hand massage begins to sound, well… delicious.

Try this simple practice — for just one day, shift your focus from efficiency to noticing beauty and see what happens.

Do your own research — and let me know in the comment section below what you find.
Here’s to the shift that wants to infuse this day – and every one to come — with the pleasure that moments of beauty bring.

Coming Back

The whistle from this morning’s tea kettle took me for an unexpected dive into the Divine. Not its usual message of hot water ready for my teacup. No, I was taken off guard by the sound itself. I almost laughed at the joy of it, the sudden arching pitch, the resonance, the beauty.

I wouldn’t normally consider the whistle of a tea kettle beautiful. Not in the same way I might be struck by the perfection of Kiri Te Kanawa’s soaring high notes in a soprano aria. But my experience was the same. It wasn’t some distant intellectual analysis of the quality of the pitch or its timbre. It was the sound itself — the unexpected way it enlivened something inside me.

Is that why we‘re so entranced by beauty? Why it moves us? Is it because it actually gets inside us? That, more than just seeing it with our mind, we feel it? Does what we experience as beautiful actually become a part of us? And even more radical a thought, do we become a part of it?

Is that what stops us in mid-sentence when we are awed by the stark beauty of a winter’s bare branch trembling in the wind? Or the sun’s sudden appearance, infusing us with its warmth and light, on a gray day? There’s something about letting the sun breath into us, and giving ourselves back to it. Allowing it to warm more than skin or muscle or bone. Permitting the sun to infuse the entireity of us with sun-ness. Becoming sun; becoming Divine.

But we rarely let ourselves be touched by such intimacy. There’s really so little time. We’re just too preoccupied to notice. Too encased in buildings and cars and our hectic lives to prioritize that kind of joy, that connection to what is most sacred, most Divine in life.

But when we do . . . when we allow ourselves to feel the beauty, the deep subtleties, even for a moment — to really let them in — we’re renewed. Our very being is reconfigured. Awakened. And we come back to ourselves.